Seed Sowing

Hello and welcome to my new blog!

For my first entry I’d like to share with you some photos and tips on how I sow seeds, which I do quite a lot of in March! I’ve got a range of module tray sizes I generally sow into, some of which I picked up from garden centres for free, so it’s always worth phoning up and asking a few local ones if they’ve got any they’re happy to part with. I use trays with between 84-216 individual plugs. This means I don’t have to prick out and pot on seedlings and can pop them out nice and easy when the plants are ready for planting.

 Here we have both the smallest 84 (lettuce) and the largest 216 (spring onions), side by side. I use bubble wrap to maintain the night time temperature of the trays on my home built heat bench. This creates an environment for fast even germination of seeds, that usually require higher temperatures to sprout, tomatoes being the obvious example.

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I currently use green waste compost from brier hills recycling over in Hatfield which is pre-sieved of all the large woody bits. This has the only dis-advantage of drying out faster than peat based media so requires more regular watering, it is however ‘greener’ as the co2 released from peat extraction can be very high.

Fill the trays and water first making sure it’s wet but not saturated as the seed can rot if water is standing in the media. I then sow 1 seed per module for things like cabbage, kale, broccoli and lettuce. Beets, spinach, salad leaves, and chard all get 2-3 per module with the spring onions I aim for 3-6. Larger seeds I press down into the media with my fingers a bit to ensure good contact with the wet compost, which helps even germination. I use my finger and thumb to pick up seed from a plastic tub, and with a small rolling side-ways movement drop the seed onto the modules, (takes practise to get the right amount in every time but I get alot of it!).

Lettuce seed is by far the trickiest and a friend of mine gave me this tip to help get one in each module every time.  Use the end of a knife slightly wettted to pick up individaul lettuce seeds and wipe them into each module. This really helps me save time when I need to sow 2000 + modules at the start of the week. Then cover the seed with a small amount of compost, this preserves moisture around the seed on hot days.
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A general rule of thumb is to cover the seed with the same amount of compost as it’s thickness. So with lettuce seed an extremely thin covering, spinach 2-4mm etc.. Use an old sieve to help get it right as too much covering means the seeds can’t reach the light and expend all their energy and die, too little, and it can dry out on a sunny day after just germinating. Watering is key to good germination, put you finger on the compost- it should be moist but not come away with excess moisture. Some weeks when overcast you may need to not water at all, if it’s very sunny maybe a quick going over with the rose headed watering can every day is whats called for. It all depends on the type of compost you use, so pay close attention is the best advice I can really give. Happy seed sowing! Nick

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Lettuce seedlings on left and right sown on the 1st and 22nd of Febuary

 

2 comments on “Seed SowingAdd yours →

  1. Hi I’ve just got my first allotment new to everything. I’ve got a big plastic octagon green house thingy aswell. So what shud I b sowing now and do I need to put them indoors first? Can they be in my house or greenhouse or shed better?
    Is there a site for dummies to learn everything??
    Thanks
    Naomi

    1. Hi Naomi, That’s great you’ve got an allotment! I sometimes refer to this site for inspiration as regards vegetable varieties I might of forgotten about. Here is a link to there sowing calender: http://www.allotment-garden.org/garden-month-help/sowing-harvest-vegetable-chart.php. Depends how far away from the house the allotment is and how regularly you can visit it as regards best place to put you yet to have germinated seedlings. I would put them on a sunny windowsill if you’ve got one so you can make sure the top of the compost doesn’t get too dry. Once germinated put them in your octagon greenhouse and water well 1-2 times a week depending on sunshine levels and they should be fine. Hope that helps. Nick

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